Acupunturist facing racketeering charges gets reduced bail, closes business

Her bail was reduced by $500,000, but the Vero Beach acupuncturist who is facing racketeering and fraud charges for allegedly bilking Indian River County and several insurance companies will have to immediately close her business.

Those are among the terms agreed to by acupuncturist Jill Jaynes, 56, who appeared before Judge Robert Pegg on Friday morning. Pegg also required Jaynes to forfeit her passport.

“We’ll likely request the court to reconsider their decision to not allow my client to practice,” said Attorney Brooke Butler, who is representing Jaynes. “They just took away her livelihood. This isn’t a licensing issue, it’s about billing.”

Initially, Jaynes bail was set at nearly $1 million by County Court Judge David C. Morgan on Thursday. Butler asked the court to reconsider, and Pegg agreed to reduce bail to $455,000 but added the two other conditions.

In order to be released from jail, Jaynes will have to pay a $45,000 bond, or 10 percent of the $455,000 total.


Bail set at nearly $1 million for acupuncturist accused of fraud and racketeering

Originally published Aug. 23

Despite her lawyer’s pleas for more lenient treatment, bail was set Thursday at nearly $1 million for a Vero Beach acupuncturist who is facing racketeering and fraud charges for allegedly bilking Indian River County and several insurance companies.

Jill Jaynes, 56, who was arrested at her Vero Beach office on Wednesday, is being charged with organized fraud above $50,000, racketeering and three counts of insurance fraud. She is currently in county jail.

Authorities said that between Sept. 2013 and Dec. 2016, Jaynes defrauded Blue Cross and blue shield of more than $100,000 by making false claims for payment or other benefits pursuant to an insurance policy.

Jaynes is also suspected of making payments to persuade referral of patients to or from a healthcare provider to a healthcare facility and other crimes.

County Court Judge David C. Morgan, who oversaw Thursday’s bond hearing, ignored Attorney Brooke Butler’s passionate pleas to allow her client, Jaynes, to be released from jail on her own recognizance. Jaynes, who participated in the hearing by phone, made no comment.

“She’s from here,” Butler told Morgan. “She hasn’t done anything to try and leave or close her practice. It’s likely going to be a very lengthy trial.”

Without responding to Butler, Morgan set bail as follows: $150,000 for organized fraud over $50,000, $500,000 racketeering, $150,000 insurance fraud, $150,000 insurance fraud, and $5,000 insurance fraud.

In order to bond out of jail, Jaynes would have to pay $95,000, or 10 percent of the $955,000 bail total, Morgan noted. Butler declined to comment after the hearing.

According to county officials, the county’s health-insurance plan paid out more than $1.1 million to Jaynes’ Absolute Integrated Medicine, from October 2015 through September 2016. To put that number is perspective: The Indian River Medical Center billed the county only $1.6 million for treating county employees and their dependents during that same period; and the Sebastian River Medical Center was paid only $560,000 – half of what Jaynes’ small acupuncture office collected.

The $1.1 million paid to Jaynes covered 34,340 visits for 253 plan members who sought treatment at Absolute.

County officials said employees flocked to Jaynes’ practice because of her policy of not requiring a co-payment, essentially allowing patients to seek free, unlimited treatment.

The issue prompted county commissioners in December 2016 to place a cap on acupuncture benefits in the health-insurance plan offered to county employees.

Following the change in county policy, the number of county employee visits to Jaynes’ office plummeted. In the fiscal year that ran from October 2016 through September 2017, only 126 members submitted claims for 3,863 visits and less than $180,000 was paid to Jaynes’ practice.

Jaynes previously has publicly defended her billing practices and disputed the county’s numbers, contending that they’re misleading and have been twisted to make her the scapegoat for the county’s failure to properly regulate and monitor its health plan. Prior to the cap implemented by the commission, the county’s health plan allowed patients unlimited access to acupuncture treatments.

Jaynes is due back in court at 8:30 a.m. Friday for a motion for a bond reduction. Jaynes has an arraignment at 8:30 a.m. Sept. 26, court records show.

Staff writers Nick Samuel and Ray McNulty contributed to this article.

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